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North Carolina Moonshine and Motorsports Trail

Top 10 bets for the Enjoy Illinois 300 at World Wide Technology Raceway (aka Gateway)

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Gateway is an unusual track to handicap. Its an intermediate flat track. The track is 1.25-miles long in an oblong egg shape. The wider end, turns 1 and 2, are banked at 11 degrees. The narrow end, turns 3 and 4, have just 9 degrees of banking. This means that its banking is closer to that of Phoenix and Richmond than it is to the 1.5-mile intermediate tracks. Since the track is over a mile in length though NASCAR will be using the intermediate race package.

How I’m projecting Gateway

This is just the third Cup Series race at Gateway. So there is not a ton of data to look at when trying to determine what is important to predicting this race. Indeed, when I look at how a driver’s speed at Gateway has correlated to other tracks over the past two years the results are all over the place. The correlation coefficient between incident adjusted speed at Gateway and other tracks show no clear or particularly strong pattern.

In 2022 there was meaningful correlation, with a correlation coefficient of over .6, to races run in the intermediate package. However there is also correlation to the short flat tracks. Last year correlation with the intermediate tracks was even stronger, with a correlation coefficient of over .7, for Auto Club, Las Vegas, and Kansas. Given the small sample size though I’m trying not to overreact to correlation in a single year. Given this range of results my projections this week are using a blend of the cookie cutter intermediate and short tracks, with a particular emphasis on prior performance in 2022 and 2023 at Gateway itself. With practice and qualifying now behind us we have that data to rely on as well.

Given the flatter banking I’m expecting passing to be hard, as we have seen in the races this year at Phoenix, Richmond, and the All Star Race at North Wilkesboro. In fact, given that the intermediate package is being used, I expect passing, particularly for the lead, to be even harder than at those tracks. So track position will be key. With all of this in mind, I’ve got a Top 10 bet that is calling out value.

Bubba Wallace Top 10 +225 | Bet365

Bubba’s Cup Series track history isn’t great. He finished 26th here in 2022 and 30th last year after crashing on lap 237. That said, he does have a win here in the Truck series back in 2014.

Practice

Bubba had good pace in practice and seemed to like his car. He was one of just eight drivers to make a 25 lap run. In that long run he was around just a tenth of a second off the pace of fellow Toyota drivers Ty Gibbs and Tyler Reddick. Bubba also had the sixth best five-lap average. Overall the Speed Geeks Practice model at Win The Race graded Bubba as the eighth best car in practice.

If there is a mark against Bubba in practice it is that he had over three tenths of a second of fall off between his five and ten lap times. That fall off means he is 16th in 10 lap average. His fall off from 10 lap to 15 lap though is under a tenth of a second and his 10 to 25 lap fall off of .206 is actually less than the fall off of 25 lap leader Tyler Reddick at .268. It’s possible some traffic of just overuse of his tires early caused him to slow quickly. Despite this it seems it’s clear his car has long run speed.

Pit Road

In addition to long run speed Bubba qualified 8th. So he will start with track position. It also means he should have a better pit stall to help him hold that position during pit stops.

The 23 team’s pit road performance has been hit or miss in 2024. The Win The Race pit road rankings have Bubba 13th of the full time Cup Series drivers. However, that’s in no small part due to a a few really bad days. At Phoenix, COTA, and Kansas the 23 team had ranks of 29th or worse. In five of the last six races the team has been Top 10 in pit road performance.

The Speed Geeks Sim Center at Win The Race has fair value on Bubba finishing Top 10 at +151 and even building in some error bars I think this is easily a good bet down to +175.

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